Category Archives: Other Reviews
The essence of “The Paragon Hotel [Lyndsay Faye/J.P. Putnam/432pgs], shows a texture of different lives being lived in the essence of a period piece with a very relevant social message. Above all, within the structure, Alice “Nobody”, who grew up as the daughter of a sex worker in 1920s Harlem, shows an interesting dichotomy of structures. The texture of the gangster landscape and of innocence lost serves strictly as the set up and not the rule of thumb. Nobody knows who she is inherently at the get go and what she is good at. Her life was never meant to follow that of her mother but to disappear into the ether with a sense of knowing. It is her circumstances and her strengths that allow her to evolve within the idea of who she could be which is inherently a spy for the mob. The balance of the story teeters from her old life in Harlem and what caused her to escape under physical duress on a train to Oregon to the rightly named Paragon Hotel, where everything is perceived from altered angles. The social upheaval there gives an interesting parallel to her situation but in an all together different perception of tolerance and understanding. All the people within this structure are not necessarily good people but they are creatures of circumstance, Blossom Fontaine is one of the most interesting parallels considering her backstory. Alice ends up being the unwanted resident of an all black hotel in Portland undergoing its own sort of intrinsic social battle and persecution. The author gives a view into the racial strife suffered by the residents there despite the location being in the Pacific Northwest. The intrinsic nature of the KKK, its perceived influence and the balance of behavior because of different progressions of time especially involving the wife of the chief of police: Evy and a young colored boy: Davy who goes missing, create the the conflict and propelling nature of the story. However it is the intrinsic nature of the relationships of Alice and their psychological structure, specifically with her childhood friend Nicolo in Harlem in direct relation to her burgeoning friendship with Blossom, a cabaret performer that really make the story work in addition to her gangster guardian: The Spider, who both creates and destroys her despite his best intentions in the same breath. The different personalities in the Paragon Hotel from the cook to the elevator operator to the head of the house also paint a very vivid portrait because the puzzle pieces don’t fit together at all yet they still operate as a whole. Even Alice’s guardian angel in Portland, Max, a lieutenant from the 1st World War turned porter, who in a matter of fate saves her despite the danger to his own person (in saving a white woman who is undeniably in pain in an arena where it might have been better left alone) parallels a similar structure which propelled “Mudbound”, a Netflix film set in the same period starring Jason Mitchell and Carey Mulligan. Ultimately “The Paragon Hotel” is a novel about identity and how one changes to fit a certain idea yet the truth of the personality always creeps through to the surface,’
By Tim Wassberg
The aspect of putting a reader in the mindset of a war zone, especially of a time passed has to interrelate in some ways to the people fighting it. In “The Regiment – The True Story Of The SAS – Book One” [Vincent Brugeas/Europe Comics/70pgs], it is the balance (like the recent “Project Blue Book”) about the balance of personalities. In this telling of the SAS in the Egyptian desert, it is three men: Sterling, Jock and Paddy from the perspective of a lower munitions specialist that give the narrative life. The progression is the texture of hotheaded bravado versus the idea of strategy. The key to the story here is to take out the Nazi air capabilities by sending small teams into and infiltrating the air bases and blowing up the aircraft with small compacted bombs. The irony of the bombs becomes the fact that while they are made of plastic explosives and thermite, but it is the addition of common motor oil that gives it the ability to burn the aspects around it. While much is made of the set up plus some of the failed times to accomplish a mission, when the victory finally comes to bear, the strategy is one of fanfare but also of great energy. There is also a sense of almost foolhardy patriotism which distinctly feels worthwhile and full of energy with the reckless actions of hothead Paddy. The epilogue elements paint how the SAS was formed and maintained in certain countries but also how its intelligence gathering is comported which was its initial creation point and continues to serve the world today.
By TIm Wassberg
In the vein of “Metalocalypse”, the aspect of a hero bathed in death metal fighting hell is an interesting concept. but the creator of that perception here takes on an aspect of space opera mixed with heavy metal. “Galaktikon” [Brendon Small/Albatross/144pgs] is an no-holds barred narcissistic hero redemption story that is built within an idea (like “Jolly Roger“) that the characters being shown are fallible, desirous but also prone to lapses in judgment. Triton here is a washed-up hero who never takes off his helmet in saving his space anchor girlfriend Liz, not even when they are having sex or partying. When she finds him moving around and cheating on her, she pushes for a divorce on a planet known for it. The breakdown in communication as Triton tries to escape and his mother computer sends him to a world planet for therapy which definitely plays to the id in the play of the journey. Like “Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy”, it uses the robots and the ship’s computer as the basis for friendship until Triton gets pulled back in with his love for his former girlfriend who, at best, her horny friends help her pick up a guy in a bar who happens to be mired in sludge. He eventually takes off his mask after his therapist dies and dunks himself in the kill pool where he becomes reborn. One of the guards waiting to feed Triton and his fellow captors to a monster is manipulated and brought back into the fold. Triton realizes his error but the excess of color, profanity and the fact that one of the droids speaks in guitar licks is interesting within the structure of the narrative. The author is inspired by old Roger Corman sci fi films of the early 80s but also by the music of Queen and ELO. This pacing might make for a grand film in the essence of “Guardians” but with an R context. It’s an interesting journey to be sure and one that is realized in short form on Funny Or Die and could make an interesting expanded universe.
By Tim Wassberg